Partitioning Palawan

November 20, 2018

If it is too big to handle, cut it down into smaller pieces.

This is the only way authorities can focus on the detailed needs of local government units.

Subdividing a vast area or region into smaller units could also lead to better governance by more visionary leaders.

Regional development also gets a boost as the subdivided regions compete with one another economically.

At least this is the vision behind the grand plan.

The Senate has approved on final reading a bill dividing Palawan - the country's largest province into three new provinces, namely Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.

House Bill No. 8055 was sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, and was passed with 14 affirmative votes, 1 negative vote from Senator Risa Hontiveros and zero abstention.

Under the bill, the province of Palawan del Norte will be composed of the municipalities of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linacapan, Taytay and El Nido. The province of Palawan Oriental, in turn, will be comprised of the municipalities of Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cayancillo, and San Vicente.

The province of Palawan del Sur, which will be considered as the "mother province," will be composed of the municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Espanola, Brooke's Point, Bataraza, Balacbac and Kalayaan.

The three proposed provinces would be created upon approval of the majority of the votes cast by voters in the affected areas in a plebiscite to be conducted in 2020, Angara said.

The lawmaker noted that due to the "vastness" of Palawan, an archipelago of 1,800 islands with a population of at least 1.1 million, the division of the existing province under the bill would comply with requirements for a province set forth by the Local Government Code.

He said that the three proposed provinces would meet the land area requirement, and that Palawan del Norte and Palawan Oriental are expected to satisfy the population requirement imposed by law by 2020.

"If we speak of economic potential, Palawan is a powerhouse. Its local growth rate has been clocked at bristling 7 percent per annum for many years now. And this was achieved with a total ban on the exploitation of natural resources over a wide swath of its land," Angara added.